Sunflower oil: A sight, a musk, a staple
A radiant field of sunflowers has attracted the fancy of many an artist. Most famously, Vincent Van Gogh made an entire series of paintings on the sunflower. The wondrous yellow pools find their way into verse, paintings, politics, and almost all other walks of life. This is no coincidence. Besides serving the senses of sight and smell, sunflowers have several functional purposes.
For starters, sunflowers have a variety of uses in agriculture. The petals make dyes. Sunflower seeds are famed for being highly fibrous, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory. Sunflower seeds also contain the sweet sunflower oil that is consumed the world over as a cooking staple. Its overreaching popularity makes sunflower import export data a necessity for agricultural importers and exporters.
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The sunflower crop: A History
Sunflowers were first grown in North America by indigenous tribes thousands of years ago. Due to religious restrictions, sunflower cultivation proliferated majorly in Ukraine and Russia through the early 1800s. The trend continued until the beginning of the war in Ukraine. The two countries combined cornered about 75% of the world’s export market. But harvests were impacted deeply by the conflict. As a result, food security took a hit in several countries around the world. Europe saw record spikes in food oil prices. Africa struggled to fulfill oil demands. Shortages were also worsened by poor soy output across the world.
Sunflower export analysis
The sunflower oil export market recently received an optimistic update. Ukraine has resumed supplies helping slash sun oil prices by nearly half since April. The development came about as Russia and Ukraine signed a Turkey-brokered grain deal to let crop exports pass unharmed through the black sea. Before the war, India was Ukraine’s largest buyer. Later, India shifted its demand to Russia and Argentina. As did most others hit by the high prices. Although in recent weeks, export demand for Ukrainian sunflower oil has been rising sharply.
Top sunflower oil exporting countries (2020)
1. Ukraine ($4.71 billion)
2. Russia ($1.83 billion)
3. Netherlands ($513 million)
4. Bulgaria ($369 million)
5. Argentina ($305 million)
Sunflower import analysis
Being the top two most populous nations in the world, India and China account for the highest imports of sunflower oil. This is because the rising middle class in these nations has adopted sunflower oil as their primary cooking oil. The nations are also in close geographic proximity. Besides, Ukraine and Russian sunflowers feed people in Europe and Africa, as well.
Top sunflower oil importing countries (2020)
1. India ($1.9 billion)
2. China ($1.53 billion)
3. Netherlands ($618 million)
4. Turkey ($596 million)
5. Italy ($484 million)
Sunflower oil: What’s in store?
As the Russian offensive becomes meeker by the day, sunflower oil traders are beginning to look forward to an optimistic future. Ukraine’s ability to supply is met decisively by global demand. Rising food costs are likely to be controlled in the coming months. But, as is with most things geopolitics, only time will tell if this comes true.